The Resident Evil 2 prototype, commonly known as "Resident Evil 1.5", refers to the scrapped development builds of Resident Evil 2.
The project was in development between April 1996 and February 1997, and was ultimately canceled when production on the retail version of Resident Evil 2 began.
Leon Scott Kennedy - A rookie police officer who began working at the Raccoon City Police Department only days before the outbreak in Raccoon City. He explores the precinct for survivors and an escape route. He is the main male protagonist of the game.
Elza Walker - A young motorcycle racer who comes to the city to enroll in Raccoon University. After witnessing the outbreak, she flees to the Raccoon City Police Department and crashes her bike into the lobby. She is the main female protagonist of the game.
Marvin Branagh - A police officer at the Raccoon City Police Department. He accompanies Leon in finding a way out of the city. He is Leon's partner character.
Ada Wong - A mysterious woman who Leon helps escape the flaming wreckage of a crashed police van. She seems to know a way out of the city. She is Leon's partner character.
John - A man Elza meets in the basement of the Raccoon City Police Department, taking refuge in one of the prison cells. He helps Elza secure an escape route. He is Elza's partner character.
Sherry Birkin - A young girl hiding in the Raccoon City Police Department's auto shop. She is frightened by Leon, but finds comfort in Elza's kindness. She is Elza's partner character.
Brian Irons - The chief of police at the Raccoon City Police Department. He oversaw the S.T.A.R.S. teams and thinks highly of rookie officer Leon.
William Birkin - An Umbrella researcher who has been infected with a mysterious new virus. He is Sherry's father.
Annette Birkin - A fellow Umbrella researcher who appears to be unstable. She is William's wife and Sherry's mother.
Following the incident at the Spencer Mansion 3 months prior, Umbrella's research facilities have been shut down. As the city tries to recover from the tragedy, a seemingly incurable skin disease spreads throughout the city. By September, the entire city has transformed into t-Virus-infected creatures. The last safe haven in the center of town, the Raccoon City Police Department, is now compromised. The survivors left within search for an escape route out of the city.
The game featured similar controls to the original Resident Evil, but boasted newer features that distinguished it from its predecessor. Weapons like the Knife make a return, but now the protagonists are able to carry the knife in a sheath, allowing instant access without using an extra inventory slot. A wider range of weapons were also introduced, including Hand Grenades for Leon. Player health would change Leon and Elza's appearance throughout the game, with visible scratches, blood, and clothing tears appearing on the protagonists. At two separate points in the game, both Leon and Elza would be able upgrade their defenses by equipping body armor.
Like the original, the player had the option to choose between a male and female protagonist and would experience their individual stories. However, unlike the original, 1.5 allowed both stories to unfold at the same time, with partner characters crossing paths and parts of the map becoming unavailable in conjunction with certain events.
Crows, Zombie Dogs, Web Spinners, and Zombies return with this installment, with the latter undergoing appropriate changes to fit the new setting. Powerful Infected Gorillas have been introduced to the Raccoon City Police Department and Laboratory stages, giving the player a significant challenge early in the game. In addition, Alligators were added to the Sewers and a strange half-man, half-spider creature could be found in the Laboratory. Perhaps one of the most significant additions is William Birkin—infected by the new G-Virus—who stalks the player through the Factory and Laboratory stages, until the very end of the game.
Production and DevelopmentEdit
Production for the game was started sometime in 1996. The original draft featured a tactical-geared cast who appeared largely similar to the first game, with a lead protagonist known as "Grant Bitman". This concept was scrapped once game development began sometime in July 1996. The first public build was unveiled at the V-Jump V-Fest in September 1996, featuring footage of the male protagonist Leon Scott Kennedy traversing the Lobby and Chief Irons' Office. Zombies were the only enemies shown at the time. Elza Walker was formally introduced at this time with concept artwork and a character biography, but she had no model or gameplay to showcase.
As 1996 drew to a close, the development team felt unhappy with the project. With the game estimated to have been 70% complete and nearing release in March, the project was cancelled.[note 1] The developers then took the risk to redevelop the game from scratch. In the meantime, the Resident Evil: Director's Cut was released along with the first demo of what would become the retail version of Resident Evil 2. In late-January, 1998—nearly an entire year after the original project was scheduled to launch—Resident Evil 2 hit the market and was a commercial success.
The original setting of the game was very modern with much more realistic urban environments. When the game was redeveloped, it was decided that the setting would more accurately reflect the appearance of a smaller town.
When game development began, one playable build would be created per month and shown to Mikami. They are speculated to have been created near the beginning of each month, showcasing work from the previous month. A handful of these builds are known to exist. They include:
- The V-Fest build - The premiere build showcased at V-Fest '96.
- The Summer builds - The collective builds between the premiere and November builds.
- The November 1996 build - The build leaked to the public.
- The Winter builds - The final builds of the game.
- ↑ The percentage given before the project was scrapped varies from each account given. However, 70% appears to be the most consistent of these percentages.